Friday, March 7, 2003

Deal struck for Metro routes

Fairfield, West Chester try to save rush-hour buses

By Steve Kemme
The Cincinnati Enquirer

The Metro transit system and the Butler County Regional Transit Authority have worked out an agreement that could salvage the Park-n-Ride rush-hour express routes from West Chester Township and Fairfield to downtown Cincinnati for the rest of this year.

Under the plan, the transit authority would transfer $577,213 of its allotted federal funds to the Metro transit system. West Chester would pay $11,437 for service for the rest of the year, and Fairfield would pay $8,973.

The plan must be approved during the next week by Fairfield City Council, the West Chester Township trustees and the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority, which operates the Metro transit system.

Without an agreement, the two express routes would be eliminated April 4.

"We've really worked hard on this agreement," said Carla Lakatos, executive director of the transit authority. "They're both popular routes and take about 500 cars off the road during peak hours each day."

Metro had been providing buses for those two routes through a contract with the transit authority. But those routes became endangered when the transit authority ended its public transit service in Butler County at the end of last year because of a lack of funding.

West Chester and Fairfield will pay far less for the two routes under the proposed contract than they have in the past, Lakatos said.

Under the previous contract, West Chester had been paying $113,000 a year to the transit authority, and Fairfield was paying $85,000.

The proposed contract calls for West Chester to pay $31,547, of which it already has paid $20,100. Fairfield would pay $32,598, of which it has paid $23,625.

West Chester's express route leaves from the Meijer store on Tylersville Road, and Fairfield's express route leaves from the Tri-County Assembly of God on Ohio 4.

The transit authority, Metro, West Chester and Fairfield will need to talk further about the future of those two routes beyond this year.


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